Atmospheric Remote Sensing

Head of the department: Prof. Dr. Markus Rapp (interim), Dr. Ralf Meerkötter

Remote sensing of clouds with MSG/SEVIRI (Meteosat Second Generation). Clockwise for each fourth of the disk and starting at the upper right the figure shows: Color composit, optical thickness, reflected shortwave irradiance, effective droplet radius.

Climate and chemistry of the atmosphere are affected by a variety of parameters, the most important of which are clouds, aerosol, and water vapour. According to IPCC (2007), the feedback of clouds is one of the largest uncertainties in the prediction of future climate. A profound knowledge about these components and their interaction with solar and thermal radiation is therefore mandatory. Satellite observations provide information about spatial distribution and temporal changes of atmospheric quantities and can help to improve our understanding of the cloud-radiation interaction. Instruments like MSG/SEVIRI allow to study the life cycle of clouds with a time resolution of 15 up to 5 Minutes.

The department Atmospheric Remote Sensing closely cooperates with the Lehrstuhl für Experimentelle Meteorologie der Universität München and concentrates on the development and scientific application of remote sensing algorithms to study water and ice clouds as well as their influence on the radiation in the atmosphere.

Our research topics are:

  • Satellite remote sensing of water and ice clouds (MSG/SEVIRI, NOAA and MetOp/AVHRR, ENVISAT/AATSR, CALIOP/CALIPSO, TERRA u. AQUA/MODIS)
    • Radiative transfer theory and development of radiative transfer models
  • Quantification of the influence of clouds, aerosols, and trace gases on weather, climate, chemistry, solar energy, and ultraviolet radiation


Our most important tools are the

  • Aviation impact on clouds
  • One- and three-dimensional radiative transfer models: libRadtran, MYSTIC, MOM
  • Cloud classification schemes and remote sensing algorithms for the retrieval of physical properties of water and ice clouds



Director and interim head of department
German Aerospace Center
Institute of Atmospheric Physics
82234 Weßling
Tel.: +49 8153 28-2521
Fax: +49 8153 28-1841
Dr.rer.nat. Ralf Meerkötter  
Head of the department 
German Aerospace Center
Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Atmospheric Remote Sensing

Tel.: +49 8153 28-2535
Fax: +49 8153 28-1841
  • Operational algorithms for the detection and the temporal tracking of line-shaped contrails and ice clouds.


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Radiation in the atmosphere (
Global models (
UV-Radiation (